I am very fortunate to enjoy what I do. I mean, I'm incredibly fortunate to be passionate about what I'm getting paid to do. There was a time really not that long ago that I would go to my day job (which would occasionally include weekends) and just think about food all day. I'll be honest, I may have sneakily written a blog post or two at work on a slow day. I wouldn't recommend doing that if you're in an open office and people (i.e. your boss) can see your screen. *
Anyway, now I'm working in food. I'm cooking it, I'm eating it and I'm writing about it. I'm only getting paid to do one of those things but hey, you've got to start small. Yes, I know many of you will be thinking, "But she's been a cook for a while now, what's the big deal?" Sometimes, you just have to count your blessings.
I remember when I finished uni I had no idea what I wanted to do - it definitely wasn't engineering. Slowly but surely I found my way into kitchens, starting with community. I mean, I loved to cook at uni, but it was living in community and having to cook for the same people most weeks of the year that I started to be creative. Cooking for yourself, you don't really think about that.
Not only did I cook, I baked. Cakes mostly at first. Then cookies. Then pies. Then bread. And once, cheese croissants. I found my calling. And you know what? I followed it to a little place in York (ok I followed the Mr but let's try and be a little bit sentimental about all things food) called The Pig and Pastry.
The owners are lovely people who do a lot for their local community, charity and their staff. As well as looking after their own family, they run an incredibly successful business that the entire city fights to get into. Follow them on Instagram for bouts of deliciousness and the odd humorous anecdote (@thepigandpastry) or if you want other people's opinion, search them on TripAdvisor. For now, I will say that this recipe came about as a collaboration of my brain, Instagram research and my boss. It's delicious. I promised the recipe a couple of weeks ago, then I went away and lost track of everything but here it finally is! And if you're in York tomorrow (Saturday), you will be able to sample these babies at The Pig and Pastry. Until they run out. Which could be quickly. Just sayin'.
Peanut Butter 'Smore Brownies
For the brownie:
175g dark chocolate
175g butter, plus extra for greasing
25g cocoa powder
100g plain flour
225g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
For the peanut butter filling:
230g softened butter
365g peanut butter
300g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the meringue:
200g egg whites (about 3 eggs' worth)
400g caster sugar
Don't be scared by all of the ingredients, it's much easier than it looks. First, make the brownies. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C. Add the chocolate and butter to a heat resistant bowl and melt them together over a pot of hot water. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. When the chocolate and butter mixture has cooled a bit, beat it into the egg and sugar mixture but slowly so that the eggs don't cook.
Sift all of the dry ingredients together and fold them into the wet until combined. Grease a couple of cupcake tins and line the bottom with a piece of greaseproof paper. Alternatively, you could do these in cupcake cases but I think the smooth edges look nicer.
Using an ice cream scoop, add a scoop of brownie mixture to each cupcake slot. It doesn't really matter how big your scoop is, it just keeps them all the same size. Place the trays in the oven for 40 minutes. Check them half way through to make sure you're happy with how they're cooking. Ovens are different and it may be hotter at one end than the other.
While those are in the oven, make the peanut butter filling. Add all of the ingredients to a mixer with the whisk attachment on it (or a large bowl that you can use an electric whisk with). Cover the bowl with a tea towel and start the mixer on low. When the sugar has been well incorporated, take the tea towel away and crank it up to high speed to make the buttercream light and fluffy.
That process is not going to take you 40 minutes but you might as well wait until the brownies are out of the oven before you make the meringue. Maybe wash the mixer whisk and bowl. While the brownies are cooling, whip the egg whites up on a medium speed until they get foamy. Then add the sugar and crank up the speed to high. When the meringue is standing in stiff peaks, it's ready.
Now, assembly. Take the brownies out of the cases and top each one with a teaspoon of peanut butter cream. Then pipe the meringue around the peanut butter and up into a peak, covering the filling. Now, if you have a blowtorch, use it to brown the meringue. Please do not set fire to anything!! If you don't have a blowtorch, put your oven on the grill setting and keep an eye on the browning progress of the meringue. Again, please no charcoal eggy-ness.
Now you've done all the work, make a cup of tea and enjoy as many as you can handle. Or share them, your choice really.
*actually, just don't do it.